Saturday At The Masters
Weather cooperates enough to set up a Sunday finish. Plus, leaders speak, CBS records instead of going live, bifurcation is already here in a shady way, the purse is up $3 million and the Sunday plan
Third round play suspended: 3:15 p.m. EDT
Leader: Brooks Koepka, -13 through six holes of round three
Third round play resumption: 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday
First 36 Early-Late Tee Time Scoring Differential: +2.4
Round 2 Scoring Avg.: 73.271
36-hole cut: 54 players at +3 147 or better
Past champions making the cut: Spieth, Mickelson, Matsuyama Scott, D. Johnson, Z. Johnson, Couples, Schwartzel, Woods
Notables to miss the cut: Bryson DeChambeau (+4), Justin Thomas (+4), Rory McIlroy (+5), Sergio Garcia (+7), Corey Conners (+8), Kurt Kitayama (+8), Bubba Watson (+9)
LIV Golfers To Make The Cut: 12
Milestone: Fred Couples surpasses Bernhard Langer (2020) as the oldest player in Masters history to make the cut. It’s also his 31st cut made here, second only to Jack Nicklaus (32)
Let’s hear it for the Savannah River!
Sure, this was not Masters Saturday that’ll have anyone running to the local golf shop to buy a new wedge or feeling all warm and fuzzy about spring’s arrival. But the caddies got a Masters green beanie out of it!
The vaunted Augusta bubble, purportedly with the Savannah River doing the real work, helped the 2023 Masters finish second round play and allowed the committee to set groupings for the third round. Ultimately one that saw leaders play enough holes to set the Masters up for a morning restart followed by a traditional Sunday finish.
When play was halted for leaders at the particularly lake-like 7th green—newly resurfaced for this year and likely not yet as porous as the others—all seemed pleased to call it a wrap.
Jon Rahm had fallen four strokes back when the horn blew.
“Obviously when we walked up to the 7th green it was clear to us that that green had been wet for awhile,” he said. “They had been squeegeeing it for awhile. I understand they're trying to push us to play as many holes as possible, but it was very apparent when they tried to get the water out that it just wasn't going to happen in our case.”
Rahm, two back to start the round, also defused any concerns about the suspension’s timing.
“You can't really say it was late because I don't blame them for wanting us to play as much as possible.”
Amateur Sam Bennett, paired with Rahm and Koepka, was also somewhat understanding.
“It was brutal out there,” he said after playing the first six holes 2-over-par. “I think they honestly could have called it about 45 minutes earlier, but they tried their best.”
What about leader Koepka and his surgically repaired knee facing a full Sunday ahead?
“I'm not too concerned about playing 29 holes or however many holes we've got left,” he said. “It's part of the deal. I'm pretty sure I'll be up for it considering it is the Masters. So I don't think anybody should have a problem with that.”
Quick Quotes From The Leaders
Brooks Koepka (-13) on the Saturday conditions . “It's obviously super difficult. Ball's not going anywhere. You've got rain to deal with, and it's freezing cold. It doesn't make it easy. You've got to make some pressure putts. You know it was going to be a difficult day.”
Jon Rahm (-9) on his play before play was called Saturday. “Very happy with the way I finished. I made a great swing on 6 and great two swings on 7. So feeling confident, playing good golf and there's a lot to be played.”
Sam Bennett (-6) on his start. “I'm just trying to enjoy it. I feel comfortable out there. The bogeys on 1 and 2 weren't because of nerves. They were simply just bad swings.”
Featured Group Fail: CBS Tapes Leader Play
A normal Saturday CBS Masters broadcast starts as the leaders prepare to tee off at the first. Some see that as an egregiously late start compared to other major championship telecast starts. But with multiple streaming channels to keep core fans happy, The Masters is generally excused by most for its approach.
But with 2023 tee times in flux and the third round play starting earlier than normal due to the awful forecast, CBS chose to stick with a trio of pre-taped Masters shows. They recorded third round action for airing in the normal time slot. This left the leaders on the first six holes to only be seen live if someone could paste together the AI-driven “My Group” live stream since the announced Featured Groups did not include the final grouping of Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and Sam Bennett.
When the network came on at its scheduled 3 p.m. EDT start, they showed just fifteen minutes of action before rain forced a suspension anticipated by forecasters. Jim Nantz then announced the plan to show coverage from ESPN’s morning restart coverage along with third round action taped when the network showed long-in-the-can shows “We Need To Talk”, “An Invitation To The Masters: Latin America Amateur Championship” and “A Conversation with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Scottie Scheffler.”
While the approach was probably a shrewd one if you are a network executive or Masters official looking at ratings, it also seemed like a wildly outdated approach and exacerbated by the peculiar decision to not include the leaders as a “Featured Group”.
Folks weren’t happy about the lack of flexibility on display.
These Guys Play By Different Rules
As we put to bed the Koepka-Woodland 15th hole content collaboration somehow not deemed a rules infraction, the New York Post’s Ian O’Connor managed to get Ricky “Five” Elliott to talk (ever so briefly) about his generous yardage sharing collab.
O’Connor asked Elliott if he said “five” to Gary Woodland’s caddie, denoting the club used by his player approaching the 15th green.
“No, it was just a completely different situation..No comment, it's all sorted.”
Elliott also said he took unfair criticism for what most people in golf see as a pretty obvious rules violation. If Elliott was sending the information to a spotter, it remains so strange that both he and Koepka were looking at the other caddie, not a spotter over to the side as the usual fanboys are claiming.
While the incident won’t cost Koepka penalty strokes, it has done a swell job of exposing the insular and increasingly shady world of the player and caddie set. The same ones in full on tantrum mode over bifurcating the game because we all know they spend every day dreaming of ways to grow golf.
But in defending the actions of Koepka and Elliott, many have privately insisted here in Augusta that such rule-bending is a daily occurrence in professional golf. As with the backstopping phase or current mashing behind their golf balls to get a sense of the lie, seems in The Show they increasingly play by their own guidelines separate of the Rules. The same Rules of Golf they insist must not be bifurcated.
I know, I know, it’s adorable.
In the Koepka instance, the player and caddie were looking at the other caddie, not the side of the fairway to a spotter. But the perverted logic that this kind of stuff happens every day among the people who pride themselves in being the best on the planet, is, well, more than a little embarrassing.
At least we know the game is already bifurcated between professionals (who bend the rules) and the every day amateurs who aren’t buying it: